Issue Summer 12
As one of the world’s largest companies offering advanced audiovisual (AV), immersive 3-D, networked and collaborative technologies, Mechdyne Corporation does far more than set up projectors and audiovisual systems. The company’s specialty is tackling complex projects, understanding user requirements and developing comprehensive technology solutions – innovative display, graphics computing, software and interaction tools – that fit customers’ needs.
Founded in 1996, the company is based in Marshalltown, Iowa, and it has a global footprint. Mechdyne’s clients span many industries and sectors, including government laboratories, military branches, energy, universities and research, healthcare and manufacturing. Over the years, the company has served many large, multinational customers and helped them solve complex business problems.
“We were founded by Iowa State University engineers, initially specializing in large, 3-D immersive systems,” Vice President Mike Hancock says. “Today we are also a skilled technology integration company and one of the world’s largest providers of visual information technologies.”
The company’s greatest strength is that it is much more than just an AV company. Not only does it provide complex immersive and AV solutions, it also has a global technical support team that works separately from project teams. Mechdyne has a well-developed and defined process-oriented approach to project management.
“And our people are outstanding,” Hancock adds. “They are experts at delivering large projects with a high degree of personal attention to customer needs. This personal approach helps us provide customers with the solutions that are best for them.”
Taking the Lead
Mechdyne’s CAVE automatic virtual environment system set the wheels in motion for the company’s long-term success. Mechdyne’s founders developed the first commercial CAVE to be run by off-the-shelf PCs. Mechdyne followed that up by developing the first rear-projected, curved screen immersive visualization system, and then the first reconfigurable immersive solution, called the FLEX.
As the company grew, it gathered external expertise through acquisition. The 2003 acquisition of Fakespace Systems made Mechdyne the world’s leading large-scale visualization solutions provider. The 2005 acquisition of VRCO Inc., an immersive software company, enhanced the company’s status as the largest provider dedicated to 3-D visualization solutions and helped Mechdyne move into the world of complex AV solutions.
Thanks to the breadth of its experience and expertise, the company has also developed a worldwide reputation for innovation. Mechdyne’s hardware and software design and engineering capabilities provide industry-leading solutions with interactive visualization and multi-platform systems. In addition, the company employs on-staff engineering and computer science experts who are highly trained, experienced and committed to after-sale support.
“Our customers tend to be organizations focused on research, manufacturing, business or government,” Hancock says. “Whether a client is a military branch, an oil and gas company, or a large manufacturer, the common thread is that they are all looking to use technology to help them understand problems, train their staff, cut costs or reduce the need to travel. Often, they want their workforce to have the ability to collaborate across great distances. We help them put technology to work in ways that allow them to see their data in new ways and share it easily with others.”
Inside and Out
Today, Mechdyne continues to add to its offerings through internal development and external partnerships. Last year, Mechdyne and Unity Technologies unveiled “getReal3D for Unity,” a Mechdyne-developed software plug-in for immersive displays. The company also enhanced its Conduit software so multiple users wearing motion capture suits could enter into a virtual human avatar and directly interact with data, bringing more realism to product development and other simulations.
“When users employ game engines like Unity for more serious, commercial endeavors, it’s called serious gaming,” Hancock says.
Meeting the demands of challenging projects and delivering them outside North America is something Hancock says Mechdyne does routinely. In 2009-10, Mechdyne designed, engineered and installed a multimillion-dollar project at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia. The company plans to continue looking for such projects, while also growing its software division and developing solutions. Hancock says these kinds of solutions are helping businesses solve a number of everyday workflow challenges.
Close relationships with partners and vendors will also be an important aspect of Mechdyne’s growth strategy. The company strives to work with partners who share its passion for serving customers, introducing new products and pushing technology development.
“We will continue to develop and refine our technology expertise and our total solutions approach,” Hancock says. “Large organizations as well as smaller ones can benefit from the new technologies being offered. But we also know how important it is for organizations to be certain they are making wise investments. We strive to understand what our clients need to generate a return on investment, and we work hard to provide a solution that will deliver that return.”